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London Coffee Festival 2014

April 15, 2014 Leave a comment

London Coffee Festival 2014Tickets to the London Coffee Festival 2014 were going for £11.50 (the best price with various discount codes was 2 tickets for £20). Probably not a good use of money, I thought, then promptly won a bid on ebay for a pair for £0.99. Score, TG.

The days were split into three three-hour sessions, but the queue to get in meant a later start time (though an improvement on last year’s 45-minute wait). The one we were in stretched all the way to Spitalfields until some marshalls snaked us round a back street:

London Coffee Festival 2014 London Coffee Festival 2014

Inside the building, it was lively, with blaring music and shouting hipsters. Friends and i thought it too commercialised though – very few coffees for complimentary tasting, most charging £1-2 per cup. The True Artisan Café section brought together several independent cafés, selling coffee at more-or-less usual prices. “Why bother queuing and pushing through crowds for this, when i could just visit these coffeshops at my leisure?” pouted one person:

London Coffee Festival 2014 Kahlua Coffee House, London Coffee Festival 2014
Ozone Coffee Roasters, London Coffee Festival 2014

What is the goal of a coffee festival? To educate the palates of coffee-lovers and convert non-coffee-lovers? To showcase products? Just a trade show? If i had to organise one, the emphasis would be on education; to raise the standard of coffee-making and appreciation amongst the general public and in that way, bringing greater enjoyment of the good (though fallen) creation in which we live.

Union Hand-roasted Coffee had regular roasting demonstrations beside their cafe/shop:

London Coffee Festival 2014 London Coffee Festival 2014
London Coffee Festival 2014 London Coffee Festival 2014
London Coffee Festival 2014 London Coffee Festival 2014

And the cupping challenge (find the odd one out) was fascinating, though we had to purposefully get one of the guys to talk us through the cups after:
London Coffee Festival 2014
The Make Decent Coffee Lounge was fun as usual because we got to compare drinks from the same beans made by different brewing methods, though the more scientifically picky might point out that there would be far too many variables in the mix:

Make Decent Coffee Lounge, London Coffee Festival 2014 Make Decent Coffee Lounge, London Coffee Festival 2014

Interesting sampling at the Ethiopian coffee booth (not the usual Yirg and Sidamo), though sad to have missed Roundsquare Roastery‘s whisky cask coffee:

London Coffee Festival 2014 London Coffee Festival 2014

Stopped to look at gadgets too of course, and contemplated home-roasting with a Hottop Drum Roaster, grinding with Hausgrind‘s handmade mills, and made my first rather horrid latte-art at the Sage Coffee Machine booth:

London Coffee Festival 2014
Hausgrind, London Coffee Festival 2014 London Coffee Festival 2014
Sage Machine, London Coffee Festival 2014 London Coffee Festival 2014

Sobering to think though that God isn’t glorified through our mere enjoyment of creation but our acknowledgement of him as Creator and Lord over all:

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. (Romans 1)

London Coffee Festival 2013, and Suffering and Evil in Job

April 30, 2013 Leave a comment

London Coffee Festival 2013, Old Truman BreweryRushed through Spitalfields just in time to meet friends waiting in the line for the London Coffee Festival 2013 (facebook), which snaked round a corner of the Old Truman Brewery and continued for a least 1km down Brick Lane. News that the organisers were still clearing the people from the previous time-slot prompted several Americans to demand a refund while the British continued to wait stoically in the drizzle.

Half an hour after the start of the ticketed time, we were in. Because this was London, individual stalls in the main hall were set up around a green open space, and there was a programme of live music acts for those resting from all the caffeine.
London Coffee Festival 2013, Old Truman Brewery

At the Brew Bar near the entrance, there was 360°‘s Bolivia Caravani (Mana-mana?) on Hario V60s. We tracked the beans down at the Make Decent Coffee room where you could taste test the same bean brewed using different methods – on the cafetiere, it was cloudy and slightly muddy; on the aeropress, its brightness was overwhelming; on the chemex, muted; and on the V60, relatively flavourful and full-bodied. An educational experience especially for my partner-in-crime (since i’d conducted similar experiments at home with the same equipment).

London Coffee Festival 2013, Old Truman Brewery London Coffee Festival 2013, Old Truman Brewery

The coffee i enjoyed most, in milk, was Union Hand-roasted‘s Blend No. 1 (50% Guatemala Finca el Cascajal, 40% Nicaragua Finca la Argentina, 10% Kenya Kagumioni AB) – all caramel goodness versus the dark chocolate and berries of the alternative blend, Louie Mio (vague – 10% Vietnam, 50% Ethiopian Sidamo, 30% Brazil, 10% Honduras).

London Coffee Festival 2013, Old Truman Brewery

Of all the gear on display, was most interested in the Ikawa Roaster and Roast App for homeroasters, a lovely bench of Hario equipment (most of which i owned but left in Singapore), the tamper handles made of different woods, and the beautiful ROK Espresso maker.

London Coffee Festival 2013, Old Truman Brewery London Coffee Festival 2013, Old Truman Brewery
London Coffee Festival 2013, Old Truman Brewery London Coffee Festival 2013, Old Truman Brewery

The next day, in possibly the only sermon to mention the London Coffee Festival (but i could be wrong!), Andrew Sach of St. Helen’s Bishopsgate ended a very useful series on the Book of Job, having himself been greatly helped by Christopher Ash’s Out of the Storm.

“I won’t believe in God unless he can explain why there is evil in the world.” and “How can a good God allow suffering? A good God can’t, so the presence of pain proves that there isn’t a good God.” we say, and think ourselves very reasonable and intelligent. But the Book of Job scoffs that by this, we actually show that we know nothing at all, and in our arrogant foolishness even fail to realise that God is so much greater than us that we cannot expect to start to understand all that he does in his sovereignty.

Job 40-42:6

New International Version (NIV)

40 The Lord said to Job:

“Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him?
Let him who accuses God answer him!”

Then Job answered the Lord:

“I am unworthy—how can I reply to you?
I put my hand over my mouth.
I spoke once, but I have no answer—
twice, but I will say no more.”

Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm:

“Brace yourself like a man;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.

“Would you discredit my justice?
Would you condemn me to justify yourself?
Do you have an arm like God’s,
and can your voice thunder like his?
10 Then adorn yourself with glory and splendor,
and clothe yourself in honor and majesty.
11 Unleash the fury of your wrath,
look at all who are proud and bring them low,
12 look at all who are proud and humble them,
crush the wicked where they stand.
13 Bury them all in the dust together;
shroud their faces in the grave.
14 Then I myself will admit to you
that your own right hand can save you.

15 “Look at Behemoth,
which I made along with you
and which feeds on grass like an ox.
16 What strength it has in its loins,
what power in the muscles of its belly!
17 Its tail sways like a cedar;
the sinews of its thighs are close-knit.
18 Its bones are tubes of bronze,
its limbs like rods of iron.
19 It ranks first among the works of God,
yet its Maker can approach it with his sword.
20 The hills bring it their produce,
and all the wild animals play nearby.
21 Under the lotus plants it lies,
hidden among the reeds in the marsh.
22 The lotuses conceal it in their shadow;
the poplars by the stream surround it.
23 A raging river does not alarm it;
it is secure, though the Jordan should surge against its mouth.
24 Can anyone capture it by the eyes,
or trap it and pierce its nose?

41 “Can you pull in Leviathan with a fishhook
or tie down its tongue with a rope?
Can you put a cord through its nose
or pierce its jaw with a hook?
Will it keep begging you for mercy?
Will it speak to you with gentle words?
Will it make an agreement with you
for you to take it as your slave for life?
Can you make a pet of it like a bird
or put it on a leash for the young women in your house?
Will traders barter for it?
Will they divide it up among the merchants?
Can you fill its hide with harpoons
or its head with fishing spears?
If you lay a hand on it,
you will remember the struggle and never do it again!
Any hope of subduing it is false;
the mere sight of it is overpowering.
10 No one is fierce enough to rouse it.
Who then is able to stand against me?
11 Who has a claim against me that I must pay?
Everything under heaven belongs to me.

12 “I will not fail to speak of Leviathan’s limbs,
its strength and its graceful form.
13 Who can strip off its outer coat?
Who can penetrate its double coat of armor?
14 Who dares open the doors of its mouth,
ringed about with fearsome teeth?
15 Its back has rows of shields
tightly sealed together;
16 each is so close to the next
that no air can pass between.
17 They are joined fast to one another;
they cling together and cannot be parted.
18 Its snorting throws out flashes of light;
its eyes are like the rays of dawn.
19 Flames stream from its mouth;
sparks of fire shoot out.
20 Smoke pours from its nostrils
as from a boiling pot over burning reeds.
21 Its breath sets coals ablaze,
and flames dart from its mouth.
22 Strength resides in its neck;
dismay goes before it.
23 The folds of its flesh are tightly joined;
they are firm and immovable.
24 Its chest is hard as rock,
hard as a lower millstone.
25 When it rises up, the mighty are terrified;
they retreat before its thrashing.
26 The sword that reaches it has no effect,
nor does the spear or the dart or the javelin.
27 Iron it treats like straw
and bronze like rotten wood.
28 Arrows do not make it flee;
slingstones are like chaff to it.
29 A club seems to it but a piece of straw;
it laughs at the rattling of the lance.
30 Its undersides are jagged potsherds,
leaving a trail in the mud like a threshing sledge.
31 It makes the depths churn like a boiling caldron
and stirs up the sea like a pot of ointment.
32 It leaves a glistening wake behind it;
one would think the deep had white hair.
33 Nothing on earth is its equal—
a creature without fear.
34 It looks down on all that are haughty;
it is king over all that are proud.”

42 Then Job replied to the Lord:

“I know that you can do all things;
no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know.

“You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.’
My ears had heard of you
but now my eyes have seen you.
Therefore I despise myself
and repent in dust and ashes.”

Pies & Coffee at Rochester Mall

July 23, 2012 Leave a comment

Pies & Coffee, Rochester Mall Pies & Coffee, Rochester Mall
Pies & Coffee, Rochester Mall
Wagyu beef cheek pie. Pies & Coffee, Rochester Mall Pies & Coffee, Rochester Mall
Pies & Coffee, Rochester Mall Pies & Coffee, Rochester Mall

Pies & Coffee (facebook. 35 Rochester Drive, Rochester Mall) serves…pies and coffee… The pies had a buttery crust that barely held itself together. The insides were fairly tasty though made us rather thirsty for some time after. Rocket leaves to accompany, mash seemed reconstituted.

Pies & Coffee, Rochester Mall Pies & Coffee, Rochester Mall
Pies & Coffee, Rochester Mall Pies & Coffee, Rochester Mall
Apple pie. Pies & Coffee, Rochester Mall

Wasn’t too keen on the Geisha on the Air Infuser for the same reason I prefer drip brewing to the Aeropress – a certain lack of body. The espresso-based drinks were decent, with complimentary chocolate chip cookies.

Nice space: friendly and helpful staff, free wifi, choice of al fresco by the water feature or air-conditioned seating sometimes filled with teachers swigging beers and marking scripts.

Life, Liberty, Coffee

February 27, 2012 2 comments

On the way to a wedding at Foochow Methodist Church in Little India last week, I wanted to check out a terrace house* on Starlight Road I’d visited many years ago, to see the gentrification of the area.

But we were delayed by an intriguing sign:
Liberty Coffee, Rangoon RoadNaturally, an investigation was in order.

Liberty Coffee, Rangoon Road Liberty Coffee, Rangoon Road
Water point, Liberty Coffee, Rangoon Road Liberty Coffee, Rangoon Road
Liberty Coffee, Rangoon Road Hario, Liberty Coffee, Rangoon Road

Liberty Coffee (facebook), at 131 Rangoon Road, diagonally across from L’Etoile Cafe on Owen Road, was set up by Terence Tay (ex-pilot cf Smitten Coffee and Tea Bar’s ex-naval officer). His description of the roastery as a speakeasy surely refers to its lack of regular opening hours or a barista to call its own, rather than any fly-by-night connotations or opium in the coffee.

Liberty Coffee, Rangoon RoadWith the Singapore “artisanal”, specialty, third wave coffee field already filling fast with players, Terence was right to start on a friendly note. For last week’s open house, he borrowed three baristas to helm the La Marzocco: Marcus Leong from Papa Palheta/Loysel’s Toy, Darren Chang (aforementioned ex-navy guy) from Smitten Coffee, and Pavan Khialani from Sarnies, Telok Ayer Street, and some chaps from Jewel Coffee dropped by for a chat.

Liberty Coffee, Rangoon Road Liberty Coffee, Rangoon Road

They mainly retail “globally-sourced specialty beans, artisan-roasted to the highest standard in Singapore” on the big black Giesen coffee roaster (also seen in black at Smitten Coffee and blue at Jimmy Monkey) in the rear of the shophouse. A Mirage Veloce Coffee Machine and a smaller Giesen(?) sat on ledge in the back as well.

Speakeasy Espresso Blend, Liberty Coffee, Rangoon Road Flat White, Liberty Coffee, Rangoon Road

The house Speakeasy Espresso blend was lovely in a flat white made by Pav: tobacco at first then transiting to nutty goodness with slight spice. Brazil Fazenda Lagoa Mondo Novo, Guatemala Finca Santa Ana La Huerta, Ethiopia Sidamo. Terence said they had been cupping every day and the beans were best after a 2-3 week rest from their roast date.

Scale, Liberty Coffee, Rangoon Road Pour-over, Liberty Coffee, Rangoon Road
They did single origin pour-overs too (11g a cup).

Also very decent:

Banana Walnut Bread, Liberty Coffee, Rangoon Road Banana Walnut Bread, Liberty Coffee, Rangoon Road
banana walnut bread;

Pecan chocolate cookie, Liberty Coffee, Rangoon Road
pecan date cookies; but we were too late for the Valrhona chocolate layer cake.

On the topic of liberty, we’ve had hilarious little discussions over the past week about the lawyers who help people fight for their freedom – not the society-approved human rights sort who claim to fight for the allegedly oppressed, poor and downtrodden; but the types who represent alleged murderers, rapists, rich corrupt politicians (whom, people forget, are also entitled to the same sort of “human rights” as the first category).

Liberty Coffee, Rangoon RoadYou really need the right advocate for the job, and a large part of this has to do with understanding the culture within which you will be judged: part of this has to do with the different laws in each jurisdiction (since each society may have differing definitions of what it considers to be just, and some laws are in place to deal with the unique issues in each place), another part of this is because different legal systems work in different ways, and yet another part of this is because the judge is human and therefore, not matter how hard he tries to be objective and how many safeguards are in place, exercises his discretion within a certain culture.

If you were in India, you would need an Indian lawyer who would be able to draft court papers in the most confident and self-righteous language possible (otherwise, you may not be taken seriously) but have the patience to wait a whole day to have your case heard; if you were in Indonesia, your lawyer would have to be able to navigate the queues to have your case heard some time this century (without bribery) etc. In these two instances, an American lawyer (for example), throwing his weight around and demanding his right to be heard and going to the media whining, might merely jeopardise your case, even if he knew the local laws like the back of his hand.

And if, like Dominique Strauss-Kahn, you were facing charges “abetting aggravated pimping by an organised gang” and “misuse of company funds”, and you’d actually attended an orgy party organised by the head of the local French police, perhaps you need to pay top Euro to a French lawyer like Henri Leclerc who will argue (not before an official judge but the judge that is the collective public) that you may not have known you were with prostitutes as “in these parties, you’re not necessarily dressed. I defy you to tell the difference between a nude prostitute and a nude woman of quality.”

While some of us may never have charges brought against us in a court of law in this world, we will all stand before God to be judged on the Last Day. And if the biblical accounts of human encounters with God is anything to go by, we will be trembling with fear and attempting to hide under mountains to avoid his wrath.

What a relief then that we have a supremely competent lawyer, an advocate, who will act for us and defend us in God’s court of law (1 John 2:1). And his plea will be that he himself has been the atoning sacrifice for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2), so that whoever believed in him (before it was too late to do so) would not perish, but would have eternal life (John 3:16).

*
Starlight Road
3 Starlight Road

12 Starlight Road
12 Starlight Road

Coffee from St. Helena and Yemen

November 17, 2011 1 comment

Geisha Specialty Coffee, Burlington SquarePopped by Geisha Specialty Coffee (facebook) at Burlington Square after lunch near a client’s office and enjoyed two pour-overs:

Pour-over for Saint Helena beans, Geisha Specialty Coffee, Burlington Square Saint Helena coffee in a cup, Geisha Specialty Coffee, Burlington Square

a cup of St. Helena from the island on which Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled:

St. Helena is a island in the South Atlantic Ocean which situated just above the Tropic of Capricorn, midway between Africa and America. Production is low, demand is high and the quality exceptional. It is called the most exclusive coffee in the world.

Producer: Sandy Bay Estate
Cultivar: Green-tipped Bourbon
Way of process: wash process
Flavour: Full and complex aroma, balance of ripe fruit.

– I liked its complexity, quite acidic at first but mellowing into mild toffee as the cup cooled. Not as fragrant as the Geisha; and

Yemen Mocha pour-over, Geisha Specialty Coffee, Burlington Square Yemen Mocha, Geisha Specialty Coffee, Burlington Square

a cup of Yemen Mocha not quite like the previous one I’ve had – this one had the slight dry aroma of barbecued meat and was quite mellow from the start, ending with a somewhat yeasty note (like red wine, said Wang Tao). Again, the beans were harvested by traditional methods, sun-dried and then process with primitive implements (stones), leaving them disfigured and broken.

We spoke a bit about how wonderful it is that there are so many coffee beans in this world, each with their own characteristic taste. With all the fun i’ve gotten from grapes and barley and coffee beans these few months, it occurred to me that the Bible is slightly modest in describing the creation of vegetation with a mere two verses in Genesis 1:

And God said,”Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:11-12)

Then again, i suppose the Bible isn’t interested in providing encyclopedic information about the whole universe (and therefore, not about the Big Bang or dinosaurs or life on other planets etc); it is really quite focused on man’s persistent and critical problem (his inability to have a right relationship with his Maker), and the ultimate and only way to be saved from the dire eternal consequences of this.

Yet More Interesting Coffee Joints in Singapore

October 4, 2011 14 comments

Previous posts on (specialty) coffee joints in Singapore:

Updates here.

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While waiting for the rest to arrive at dinner, we were chatting about the necessity of describing the entire experience of eating or drinking in any critique or review of a food or beverage. In wine, for example, one should describe the colour, the aroma and bouquet, and then the whole taste process from when the wine first enters the mouth till it reaches the back of the palate and is swallowed. To describe just part of the process would be confusing to a third party, like only one of the blind men feeling up the proverbial elephant describing what that elephant looked like. Also, when critiquing a beverage, it would be remiss to exclude mention of the circumstances in which that beverage was consumed – wine would taste different at the beginning of the day before breakfast and at the end of the day when accompanied by a medium rare ribeye. When the others came, they chimed in that the external circumstances in which consumption took place also mattered – even if the kitchen sent out it most wonderful dishes, one’s experience would be spoilt if service was rude or shoddy.

i should be more aware of these things when setting out experiences hereabouts, but will probably be unable to fully enunciate the entirety thereof. It’s absolutely magnificent how much sensory pleasure we can derive from what should merely be just feeding and hydrating for survival.

For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!

Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting! (Psalm 139:13-17,23-24)

So, we are fortunate to enjoy another wave of interesting coffee places, all with rather varied concepts and offering different experiences:

Brunetti's Singapore, Tanglin Mall

Brunetti's Singapore, Tanglin Mall Brunetti's Singapore, Tanglin Mall
Floor tiles, Brunetti's Singapore, Tanglin Mall Menu, Brunetti's Singapore, Tanglin Mall
Mushroom soup, Brunetti's Singapore, Tanglin Mall Cakes on display, Brunetti's Singapore, Tanglin Mall
Cannoli, Brunetti's Singapore, Tanglin Mall Gelato, Brunetti's Singapore, Tanglin Mall
Brunetti's Singapore, Tanglin Mall Brunetti's Singapore, Tanglin Mall
Flat White, Brunetti's Singapore, Tanglin Mall Raspberry macaron, Brunetti's Singapore, Tanglin Mall

Brunetti Singapore aims the bring the Italian coffee culture, via Melbourne, to Singapore. It is a full-service cafe in a mall (01-35 Tanglin Mall), offering soups and Italian savouries like panini and pizza, a good range of Italian confections like cannoli, a gelateria section and coffee serviced by a 5-group La Cimbali. The coffee was roasted Italian-style – dark, so that there is some bitterness on the tongue at first, but this roast profile on the Santa Chiara house-blend was well-tempered by the smooth sweet milk. My cup was made by [Fabio?], who seemed to be running things behind the counter as well. The other barista on that shift was a Chinese lady. There were also two attentive Indian ladies (probably with interests in Gill Capital?) bustling about to ensure that tables were cleared and people were taken care of. Loads international school kids came by for gelato and cakes and macarons.

Current opening times:
Daily: 9am – 10pm

Dominic Khoo's 28th Fevrier, 5 Jalan Kilang
Dominic Khoo's 28th Fevrier, 5 Jalan Kilang Dominic Khoo's 28th Fevrier, 5 Jalan Kilang
Atelier, Dominic Khoo's 28th Fevrier, 5 Jalan Kilang Dominic Khoo's 28th Fevrier, 5 Jalan Kilang
Dominic Khoo's 28th Fevrier, 5 Jalan Kilang Pause, Dominic Khoo's 28th Fevrier, 5 Jalan Kilang
Pause, Dominic Khoo's 28th Fevrier, 5 Jalan Kilang

Pause (fb) at Dominic Khoo’s 28th Fevrier (5 Jalan Kilang) is a different creature. Set within Dominic Khoo’s white indescribable space in an industrial estate, Pause shares the site with designer Kevin Seah and bespoke shoemaker Edwin Neo of Ed Et El. Dominic Khoo’s photographs line the walls and the seating at the coffee area consists of Flexiblelove Chairs made from recycled paper.

Tamping, Pause, Dominic Khoo's 28th Fevrier, 5 Jalan Kilang Latte art etching, Pause, Dominic Khoo's 28th Fevrier, 5 Jalan Kilang
Latte art and biscotti, Pause, Dominic Khoo's 28th Fevrier, 5 Jalan Kilang Latte art, Pause, Dominic Khoo's 28th Fevrier, 5 Jalan Kilang
Aged ginger tea, Pause, Dominic Khoo's 28th Fevrier, 5 Jalan Kilang Biscotti, Pause, Dominic Khoo's 28th Fevrier, 5 Jalan Kilang

Haryanto Soemito trained at Cuppachoice and he and the other barista were quite intent on getting the extraction just right. The safe well-attested house blend of Columbian, Kenyan and Sumatran beans was earthy and nutty in the piccolo latte, and though latte art etching isn’t known to be quite as suave as free pour latte art, the kawaii-ness was appreciated.

Current opening times:
Weekdays: 8am – 11pm
Saturdays: 10am onwards
Sundays: 1pm – 8pm

Drips Cafe and Bakery, Tiong Poh Road, Tiong Bahru Estate Drips Cafe and Bakery, Tiong Poh Road, Tiong Bahru Estate
Drips Cafe and Bakery, Tiong Poh Road, Tiong Bahru Estate Complimentary water on side table, Drips Cafe and Bakery, Tiong Poh Road, Tiong Bahru Estate
Drips Cafe and Bakery, Tiong Poh Road, Tiong Bahru Estate Smoked salmon and mango sandwich, Drips Bakery Cafe, Tiong Poh Road, Tiong Bahru Estate
Cakes and tarts, Drips Bakery Cafe, Tiong Poh Road, Tiong Bahru Estate Strawberry Tart, Drips Bakery Cafe, Tiong Poh Road, Tiong Bahru Estate
Blackboard menu, Drips Cafe and Bakery, Tiong Poh Road, Tiong Bahru Estate Piccolo latte, Drips Bakery Cafe, Tiong Poh Road, Tiong Bahru Estate

At Drips bakery cafe at #01-05, Block 82 Tiong Poh Road in Tiong Bahru Estate, due attention is given to the Graffeo coffee beans which are ground in a Mazzer and brewed on a Unic. The piccolo latte is the piccolo-est est i’ve seen, and in the small milk, the Italian-roast was slightly dry (stringent?) and a tiny bit smokey. Decent enough, but really, the pastries (made fresh daily) are where one’s energies should be focused – the excellent shortcrust tart shells were buttery and sweet (but not too) and shattered properly, and the strawberries were appropriately sweet in their way and not choked with gelatin glaze. Alfred Chan of Fredo Galaxy is apparently a co-owner. Fortunate is the congregation at St. Matthew’s Church on Eng Hoon Street.

Current opening times:
Monday – Thursday (closed on Tuesdays), Saturday and Sunday: 10.30am – 9.30pm
Friday: 10.30am – 11pm

Open Door Policy, Yong Siak Street, Tiong Bahru Estate Flat White Coffee, Open Door Policy, Yong Siak Street

Open Door Policy (19 Yong Siak Street, Yong Siak View, Tiong Bahru Estate) is a bistro rather than a coffee joint but its coffee deserves mention. The “specialty coffee bar” next to the restaurant bar is helmed by folk from Harry Grover’s 40 Hands Coffee (all part of Cynthia Chua’s Spa Espirit group) and the flat white i had was excellent – the house blend of Brazilian (base), Papa New Guinean and Bali Kintamani was roasted complex enough to taste like it teetered on the knife-edge of being a nasty cup but the barista had balanced it just right in the milk so there were hints of spice (cinnamon?) and chocolate as the cup cooled.

Exterior, Toby's Estate Coffee Singapore, 8 Rodyk Street Stock of Hario, Toby's Estate Coffee Singapore, 8 Rodyk Street
Wall Mural, Toby's Estate Coffee Singapore, 8 Rodyk Street Roaster, Toby's Estate Coffee Singapore, 8 Rodyk Street
Industrial pipes, Toby's Estate Coffee Singapore, 8 Rodyk Street Mirage Coffee Machine, Toby's Estate Coffee Singapore, 8 Rodyk Street

Toby’s Estate Coffee Asia at #01-03, 8 Rodyk Street, finally opened after much anticipation. We knew from his blog that Suhaimie Sukiman (formerly from Cuppachoice) would be there but the other baristas looked somewhat familiar… Colin Loh saved a lot of brain-racking (thanks!) – there’s Terence Tan from Joe & Dough (Suntec), Andy from Jewel Coffee, Nizam from Black. Seating is either at the lovely long communal table with coffee plant in the middle of the space, at bar seats facing the river or outside under large brollies. There is a large Loring roaster in one corner and a range of Hario products and Toby’s Estate tea cannisters facing the brew bar in another, and you cannot help but notice the gleaming elegant Mirage next to the cashier.

Toby's Estate Coffee Singapore, 8 Rodyk Street Beans, Toby's Estate Coffee Singapore, 8 Rodyk Street
Flat White, Toby's Estate Coffee Singapore, 8 Rodyk Street Cold brew Guatamela, Toby's Estate Coffee Singapore, 8 Rodyk Street

The flat white from the Rodyk Street Blend (Guatemala Antigua Los Volcanes and Indonesian Sumatra Long Berry) was excellent (to my shame i was preoccupied with a book and forget to remember the specifics of how it tasted) and the Guatemala cold brew was like a refreshing glass of floral smoky oolong. Next time, i’ll want to try the cold brew neat. Many return trips are being planned.

It Must Be Raining Beans – Even More Specialty Coffee Joints in Singapore

September 19, 2011 6 comments

Previous post on the subject: More Espressos, Lattes and Chemex Brews in Singapore
Updates on the subject: Yet More Interesting Coffee Joints In Singapore and here

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“Specialty coffee” didn’t quite make it to my vocabulary until recently, when many of the proprietors welcoming potential customers to their coffee places described the spaces as serving “specialty coffee”. It remains to be seen whether these go the way of other Singapore food fads like apple strudel, bubble tea (now making a re-appearance), roti boy (coffee-laced mexican buns).

But let’s enjoy the sprouting while it lasts! It’s incredibly exciting to taste and see all the different interpretations of what coffee shop owners and baristas consider good coffee:

93 degreesC Coffee, Morse Road 93 degreesC coffee, Morse Road
93 degreesC coffee, Morse Road Topper Roaster, 93 degrees celcius coffee, Morse Road
Beans, 93 degrees C coffee, Morse Road Latte, 93 degreesC coffee

93 degreesC coffee is tucked away at the foot of Mount Faber, at 16 Morse Road No. 207 (“enter by Wishart Road”) – something for the Merrill Lynch chaps and shipping and oil & gas folk at HarbourFront. They roast their beans slightly darker, in-house on a bright red Toper and brew on a Wega. The house blend had a Sumatran base and a couple of other beans including Guatemalan – this began with a faint interesting bright nutty taste but sadly it faded too soon in the milk. They also have an interesting range of beans at the brew bar – will be back to check this out.

Current opening hours:
11 am to 7 pm on weekdays (closed on Wednesdays)
8 am to 6 pm on weekends

Maison Ikkoku, Kandahar Street Maison Ikkoku, Kandahar Street
Available Beans, Maison Ikkoku, Kandahar Street Carrot Cake, Maison Ikkoku, Kandahar Street
House of the Moment Blend, Maison Ikkoku, Kandahar Street MI Latte, Maison Ikkoku, Kandahar Street
Maison Ikkoku, Kandahar Street Brazil Fazenda Santa Alina Latte, Maison Ikkoku, Kandahar Street

Spotted Maison Ikkoku during weekly jaunt down Kandahar Street, near Arab Street. At 20 Kandahar Street, wooden cabinets hang from the ceilings, with their doors made into coffee tables. The beans on offer when I was there were a Brazilian Fazenda Santa Alina, Ethiopian Harrar, Ethiopian Yirgacheffe and Jamaican Blue Mountain. Their house blend, brewed on a Nuova Simonelli and roasted by Cuppa Choice, was a mixture of the first three: quite a neutral cup but would have preferred something that would have made a better stand against the milk. It was my fault for choosing the single origin Brazilian for my second cup, a flat white – wasted the beans and the extra S$2 for a cup of excellence choice – would have been more respectful to have had it over at the brew bar instead. The carrot cake, made specially by a friend of the owner, was moist and had an ample amount of ingredients and taste. Looks like these guys are serious about attempting to get everything just right – they also had a Japanese latte artist, Hiroshi Sawada of Streamer Coffee, down for a bit of coaching.

Current opening hours:
Mon – Thu: 09:00 – 19:00
Fri – Sat: 09:00 – 22:00
Sun: 09:00 – 18:00

The Coffee Daily, Brighton Crescent The Coffee Daily, Brighton Crescent
The Coffee Daily, Brighton CrescentThe Coffee Daily, Brighton Crescent The Coffee Daily, Brighton Crescent
Gusto Gran Coffee Beans, The Coffee Daily, Brighton Crescent The Coffee Daily, Brighton Crescent

Sprouting up north(-ish) is The Coffee Daily at 75 Brighton Crescent. Minimalist 1970s interior with original tiled floor and a few retro records and tapes on display. They sell their house Gusto Gran blend concocted with the help of Highlander Coffee – a four-bean mix of Brazilian, Sumatran, Costa Rican and Ethiopian – probably a variation of Highlander’s own Gusto blend? In a flat white, it really held its own to the last drop – slightly spicy, citrusy, with good foundation.

Current opening hours:
Weekdays: 8am to 5pm (closed on Mondays)
Weekends: 9am to 6pm

Geisha Specialty Coffee, Burlington Square, Bencoolen Street Geisha Specialty Coffee, Burlington Square, Bencoolen Street
Roaster, Geisha Specialty Coffee, Burlington Square, Bencoolen Street Introduction, Geisha Specialty Coffee, Burlington Square, Bencoolen Street
Geisha Specialty Coffee, Burlington Square, Bencoolen Street Menu, Geisha Specialty Coffee, Burlington Square, Bencoolen Street

Geisha Specialty Coffee at 175 Bencoolen Street, #01-55 Burlington Square
“Do you speak Mandarin?” asked Elsie Qian after she’d ushered me into a seat. Mandarin speakers are at an advantage at this joint because both Elsie and Wang Tao are China natives, and Wang Tao enthuses about his beans solely in that language. So i busted out the Chinese chops which last saw the light of day befuddling unfortunate parties in G2G Shanghai negotiations. And he was effusive: they imported very special beans from a supplier in Japan – beans which he believed could not be found anywhere else in Singapore. The beans were then roasted in small batches on-site in a table-top roaster. You could tell from the carbon dioxide blooms that the roasts were very fresh. Singaporeans roast their beans until they are too dark and oily, he said; he stopped before the oils emerged.

Panama Finca Esmeralda Geisha in a Hario V60 pourover, Geisha Specialty Coffee, Burlington Square, Bencoolen Street Panama Finca Esmeralda Geisha, Geisha Specialty Coffee, Burlington Square, Bencoolen Street

The joint was named for the couple’s favourite bean, the “Panama Finca Esmeralda Geisha” – probably referring to the famous Hacienda La Esmeralda farm since Wang Tao said the price of this bean went up after it won a competition in the mid-1990s. Tried this on a Hario V60 pourover at around 80°C. It was very sweet and incredibly fragrant – you could still smell a citrus flower fragrance in the cup 10 minutes after it was emptied. Slight sourness but in a bright citrusy, not a bean-gone-rancid, way. The fragrance actually seemed to intensify as the cup cooled.

Ibrahim Yemen Mocha Green Coffee Beans, Geisha Specialty Coffee, Burlington Square, Bencoolen Street Freshly-roasted Ibrahim Yemen Mocha in a Hario V60 pourover, Geisha Specialty Coffee, Burlington Square, Bencoolen Street
Hario V60 Pourover Bar, Geisha Specialty Coffee, Burlington Square, Bencoolen Street Ibrahim Yemen Mocha, Geisha Specialty Coffee, Burlington Square, Bencoolen Street

Personal preference though was for the Ibrahim Yemen Mocha. This was planted and harvested by traditional methods and sun-dried. Its aroma was quite like a good Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, but on the tongue, nothing like – more full-bodied, complex, an exotic taste like spiced candied fruit. Wang Tao said he tasted cinnamon and a bit of heat. The effect on the tip of the tongue was indeed interesting – like the slight heat of chilli or, i thought, the tingle of grilled fugu fish.

It’s really great that they are reaching a demographic otherwise bypassed by the specialty third wave coffee movement – the aunties and uncles. One uncle asked for something very fragrant and was given a Blue Mountain pourover. His wife puzzled over the lack of milk or sugar, but was assured that the coffee was plenty sweet just taken plain. The uncle then asked for that nice coffee he had in Japan that came in a very small cup and was educated about espresso and espresso-based drinks. Lovely.

Long Black Cafe, Centros, Biopolis Flat White, Long Black Cafe, Centros, Biopolis

Long Black Cafe at 20 Biopolis Way, #01-02 Centros Block – Biopolis. The house blend consists of Brazilian, Indian, Guatemalan and Ethiopian. Had a cold so couldn’t tell how this tasted.

(Tasting notes: no i don’t really know what i’m talking about. Or rather i’m taking a leaf from Ronald Dworkins’ hedgehogs – i know what i’m tasting so telling it as it is, albeit in foolish ignorance of proper coffee-tasting terminology.)

There’s also:
Yahava Koffeeworks at 4 Jalan Gelanggang, Thomson Hill
Brunetti Singapore at 01-35 Tanglin Mall
Pause Cafe in Dominic Khoo’s 28th Fevrier at 5 Jalan Kilang
Toby’s Estate Singapore at 8 Rodyk Street

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